IELTS Special Exemption Policy

The Board may grant a special exemption from the IELTS test, if the Board is otherwise satisfied that the applicant’s proficiency in the English language is comparable to the proficiency demonstrated by undertaking the IELTS test and achieving the specified minimum scores.

The Board may be otherwise satisfied of such English language proficiency if the applicant demonstrates that he or she satisfies one or more of the following criteria:

(i) Has undertaken the IELTS Academic test within the last two years and their result is not far off the required minimum score in no more than one section of the test (usually not more than 0.5 off the required minimum score).

(ii) Has been employed for a substantial time period of time in a law-related role in Australia or one or more of the following countries: Australia, New Zealand, Canada (except Quebec), Republic of Ireland, South Africa, United Kingdom and Northern Ireland or the United States of America.  A ‘substantial period of time’ usually means a minimum of at least 12 months’ continuous service in a full-time role.  Applicants who meet or exceed the minimum period of time are not guaranteed a special exemption, because a range of other factors must be considered, such as the nature of the applicant’s role and level of responsibility.

(iii) Has completed, in Australia, New Zealand, Canada (except Quebec), Republic of Ireland, South Africa, United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, or the United States of America, and with the medium of instruction being English, a tertiary degree which is a prerequisite for entry to a profession and has completed the final two years of secondary education in one or more of those countries.

(iv) Has completed, in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Fiji (University of South Pacific only) or the Philippines, and with the medium of instruction being English, both secondary school and the academic qualification in law (upon which he or she relies for admission).

(v) Has obtained a Higher School Certificate (or equivalent qualification) in Australia, having undertaken his or her entire secondary school education in Australia and having achieved excellent marks particularly in English,

(vi) Has undertaken the IELTS Academic test and achieved all the specified minimum scores across multiple instances of sitting the test within the previous two years, although not in a single instance of sitting the test.

Applications for a special exemption which do not meet one or more of the above six criteria will generally be refused.  Please note that a special exemption will be rarely be given if no English language testing has been undertaken, except for those applicants who satisfy criteria (iii) or (v) above. Further a special exemption will rarely be given if the result in a component of the IELTS test is a full mark below the minimum score required.
 In such instances, undertaking the IELTS Academic test is the appropriate and objective determinant of English language proficiency.

To seek special exemption applicants should write to the Board:
  • Stating whether or not the applicant has undertaken the IELTS test within the previous two years, and if so, attach an original of all such test results.
  • Stating which of the six criteria for a special exemption the applicant is relying on and setting out the relevant facts.
  • If seeking exemption under (ii), provide two letters of reference from employers or supervisors which describe the responsibilities of the role and how the applicant has demonstrated knowledge of written and spoken English sufficient to engage in legal practice. Both letters must be signed and set out on official letterhead.

Approved by the Admissions and Registration Committee
of the Legal Practice Board on 2 May 2018 – as amended on 3 October 2018.